Washington’s game of words a clumsy political show
Published: May 11, 2022 05:06 PM
Taiwan, pawn. Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Taiwan, pawn. Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

On May 8-10, the "US Relations with Taiwan" fact sheet page on the website of the US Department of State made four registered adjustments. 

The biggest changes are: First, it deleted the declaration that "the US does not support Taiwan independence," which was the first among the "Three No's" commitments then US president Bill Clinton made in the 1990s. Second, it deleted the key content in the 1979 Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the US that "The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China" and "The government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China." Third, it added "six assurances," but did not explicitly explain them.

This move is a very typical political performance-type game of words, which clearly shows the bad intentions of some people in the US to hallow the "one-China principle," as well as their shameful hypocrisy.

In terms of objective attributes, what has been modified is a declarative page on the official website of the US State Department. It is not a legal document, nor a formal policy document, and does not have any substantive policy effect. Similarly, this page is not from a website with false information that has no official identity. This is the official website of the US State Department. 

Therefore, there is little possibility that the content was modified because temporary workers made mistakes or the page was illegally replaced by hackers. It reflects the intention of the US State Department - those who revised the document tried to construct a more "ambiguous" perception, ensuring that the "strategic ambiguity" of the US on the Taiwan question should become even more "ambiguous."

Meanwhile, it is avoiding falling into the rut of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo. The once overbearing official became the first former US secretary of state, who was sanctioned because he ran across the red line of China's national interests. Therefore, Pompeo could not reap the benefits from US' "revolving door" system but only gain publicity by posting pictures of him eating Taiwan's dried pineapples. With such a bad example, those who want to take advantage of the Taiwan question are propelled to think rationally and act prudently.

Judging from the reaction of the global public opinion, the mainstream media did not fan the flames, and the wording of the Taiwan media was also cautious by avoiding equating the adjustment of the page with the change of US policy. The US State Department responded on Tuesday that US' one-China policy has not changed.

To put it bluntly, this is a very classic hypocritical political show. First of all, some people in the US hope to use this method to send certain signals to all parties; second, the US does not have the resources to engage in a full-scale collision with China on the Taiwan question, let alone a showdown - the high inflation in the US, soaring debt and a hallow treasury that needs to be filled by looting, all show that the US has no reason to intensify conflicts with China at this time.

Third, facing the midterm elections in 2022 and the US presidential elections in 2024, some individuals in the US urgently need to come up with some achievements to fill the gap of incompetence. Based on this, it becomes very "rational" to do a little bit of this sneaky maneuver that can give the US some room to exploit benefits in various occasions.

China should be aware of the tricks of this clumsy political performance. Obviously, the actions of the US have once again proved the strategic judgment of abandoning illusions and preparing for struggle. Meanwhile, China should remain confident and firm. The Taiwan question, after all, can only be solved by strength, not by changing a page. 

As China has always pointed out, there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is the general consensus of the international community and the accepted norm of international relations. History cannot be tampered with, facts cannot be denied, and right and wrong cannot be distorted.

The author is director of the Cyberspace Governance Center at Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn